Uganda leader defends forest plan
Uganda’s president has defended plans to allocate forest land to a sugar company which sparked deadly clashes.
"I shall not be deterred by people who don’t see where the future of Africa lies," Uganda’s New Vision newspaper quotes Yoweri Museveni as saying.
At least three people died on Thursday during a protest march that turned violent in the capital and there were several attacks on Asians in Kampala.
The sugar firm which wants to use part of the Mabira forest is Asian-owned.
Environmentalists say the move threatens the existence of rare species of trees and birds in the 30,000 hectare forest.
During the march a suspected looter was shot by guards, a passer-by was hit by a stray bullet and an Asian man was stoned to death, while police fired live bullets.
The BBC’s Sarah Grainger in Kampala says parliament is yet to change the status of the forest, but it is an emotive issue in the country.
The Sugar Corporation of Uganda (Scoul), part of the Mehta group, wants to expand its plantations in central Uganda, taking over one-third of the Mabira forest.
The government is divided on the matter and the state-run New Vision paper has criticised the move.
"It is the short-sighted people who put their opinions in writing. They don’t understand that the future of all countries lies in processing," Mr Museveni said.
Other supporters of the sugar bid say the expansion would create more jobs and income for the country.
They dismiss those opposing the move, saying subsistence farmers have already encroached on much of the forest land.
The kabaka, or king, of the local Buganda community has offered to give alternative land for the sugar company in a bid to save the hardwood forest.
But campaigners have called on Ugandans to boycott Scoul products.
In the capital there has been a car bumper sticker campaign urging people to save Mabira forest.
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